Legal Ethics

Former state supreme court judge fined $50K over objectionable emails, but keeps pension


Justice J. Michael Eakin. Image from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

A former Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice who resigned last week has been fined $50,000 for sending and receiving objectionable emails, mostly or entirely on a private account.

But J. Michael Eakin will keep his $153,000-a-year pension, because a judicial tribunal agreed to accept an ethics-case prosecutor’s recommendation to drop the most serious charge against him, according to the Associated Press and

“The common thread of the emails, with their imagery of sexism, racism and bigotry, is arrogance,” said the Court of Judicial Discipline in its Thursday opinion.

However, Eakin’s performance on the appellate bench over a 20-year period was “otherwise exemplary,” the court said.

Now 67 years old, Eakin is a Republican who joined the state’s highest court in 2002. He earlier apologized and said the emails did not reflect his true character.

Related coverage: “Another justice of Pennsylvania’s top court faces ethics complaint linked to ‘Porngate’” “Pennsylvania justice retires amid email controversy”

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